SC refers Sabarimala temple's ban on women to Constitution Bench

SC refers Sabarimala temple's ban on women to Constitution Bench

The Supreme Court on Friday referred to a Constitution Bench the question whether a ban on the entry of women in the age group 10-50 years in Kerala's Sabarimala temple was discriminatory and violative of the Right to Equality under Article 14.

While hearing the case in February, the SC had reserved its verdict and said that it may refer the case to a constitutional bench at a later date. It was expected that the apex court is likely to announce the verdict today on whether women can enter the Sabarimala Temple. The entry of women, aged from 10 to 50, into the temple had been a topic of debates after the temple authorities had barred the women from entering the temple's premises.

Subsequently, when the case had come up for hearing in January 2016, the UDF government, which was in power re-considered the earlier stance, and filed an affidavit changing its position on the issue and supporting the ban.

The bench comprised of Dipak Misra, R Banumathi, and Ashok Bhushan had earlier requested to submit the things that need to be presented at the Constitutional Bench.

The Kerala Government has already informed the court that it favours the entry of women of any age into Sabarimala temple.

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In July, it had said that "a temple is a public religious place". The Kerala High Court had upheld the custom in 1991. It said that this can not be done under the Constitution.

The management of the Sabarimala temple had told the apex court that it had banned the entry of women because they can't maintain their "pureness" on account of menstruation. It had asked the parties to file written submissions that would fall under the Constitution. This is the main reason for the dispute as women activists have questioned this as a clear practice of gender discrimination.

Meanwhile, women's rights activists are hoping for a positive judgment today. It recently held that the practice of divorcing a woman by chanting "talaq, talaq, talaq" was illegal as it violated Muslim women's fundamental rights.

Whether the practice of regulating entry of women is an essential religious practice under Article 25? "I am sure the judgment will also be very positive and landmark", she was quoted as saying.

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